CHAPTER VI. THE LABORS OF THE CALIFORNIA COLUMN (Continued)
Attack upon Village of Pinos Altos—Arizona Guards—Mangus Colorado—Whipping of—Union of Mangus Colorado and Cochise—Massacre of Miners by Apaches—Battle of Apache Pass—Description by Captain Cremony—Escape of John Teal—His Shooting of Mangus Colorado—Introduction of Artillery to the Indians—Recovery of Mangus Colorado.
On the morning of September 27th, 1861, a force of over two hundred warriors attacked the mining village of Pinos Altos, but, fortunately for the people, Captain Martin had arrived the night before with a detachment of Arizona Guards, a volunteer organization, and after several hours hard fighting, the Indians were driven off with considerable loss. Soon after one hundred and fifty warriors attacked a large wagon train, one day out from Pinos Altos, and besieged it for fourteen hours. The train escaped destruction by the timely arrival of the Arizona Guards, who escorted it to the Mimbres River.
The situation of the settlers in New Mexico was about as bad as it was in Arizona, but relief was at hand. The Colorado Volunteers marched down from the north, turned back the Texans, and joined Canby in driving them from the Rio Grande. At the same time General Carleton with his Column of Californians, was advancing
Mangus Colorado, although in fact his band was domiciled in New Mexico, and not in Arizona, yet on account of the close relations existing between him and Cochise, the chief of the Chiricahuas, his history becomes, in a way, identified with that of the Indian fights in Arizona. Mangus never forgave the whipping he received at the hands of the miners of the Santa Rita Mines, and was, thereafter, the implacable foe of the whites. The details of this whipping are given by Cremony as follows:‘‘
My readers will bear in mind the place described as Santa Rita del Cobre, where the Boundary Commission remained for several months, where Inez Gonzales and the two Mexican boys were rescued from captivity, where Delgadito made his attack upon Mr. Hay, and where he got handsomely seamed by Wells. The gold mines worked by Mr. Hay at that period, twelve years prior, had proved to be very rich, and attracted many bold adventurers, among whom were a number of celbrated Indian fighters, who had passed years upon our frontiers, and were universally dreaded by all the wild Indian tribes of Arizona and New Mexico. In a short time the mining population at that point amounted to something like two hundred, of whom one hundred and fifty were well armed, fearless and experienced men. The presence of such a party was far from pleasing to Mangus Colorado and his band, as they claimed exclusive proprietorship to that whole
‘‘You good man. You stay here long time and never hurt Apache. You want the "yellow iron;" I know where plenty is. Suppose you go with me, I show you; but tell no one else. Mangus your friend, he want to do you good. You like "yellow iron"—good! Me no want "yellow iron." Him no good for me—can no eat, can no drink, can no keepee out cold. Come, I show you.’’
For a while each person so approached kept this offer to himself, but after a time they began to compare notes, and found that Mangus had made a like promise to each, under the ban of secrecy and the pretense of exclusive personal friendship. Those who at first believed the old rascal, at once comprehended that it was a trap set to separate and sacrifice the bolder and leading men by gaining their confidence and killing them in detail, while their fates would remain unknown to those left behind. The next time, after this éclaircissement, that Mangus visited
While they were occupying Apache Pass awaiting the arrival of the Americans, they described a small band of Americans approaching from the east, across the wide plains intervening between that place and the Cienega, and determined to cut it off. In the newcomers they recognized a small but well armed party of hardy and experienced miners from the Santa Rita del Cobre, and knew that such men were always on their guard and prepared to defend their lives with the greatest courage and determination. They knew also that they would be on the qui vive after having entered the pass and that any attack upon them would probably result in the
In consequence of the report made by Lieut.-Col. E. A. Rigg, Gen. Carleton again ordered me in the advance with Capt. Thomas Roberts, Co. E, First California Infantry. Arriving at the San Pedro River, it became necessary to learn whether Dragoon Springs, some twenty-eight miles further on, could supply both companies at a time with water, or whether we would be obliged to break into detachments. Capt. Roberts took the advance with his infantry and three wagons, having also selected seven of my best mounted men to serve as scouts and couriers. I remained behind with fifteen of my cavalry and ten of Roberts' company, including the detachment left as a garrison at the river, where a tolerable adobe building, erected by the Overland Stage Company, afforded decent shelter and a defensible position.
The night after Roberts left was one of the most stormy I ever witnessed. The rain descended in floods. Earth and sky appeared thunder riven; blazing lightning leaped from the inky clouds, and absorbed the Cimmerian darkness with their blinding flashes. The San Pedro roared and foamed and the animals quailed and bent before the storm, and all nature seemed convulsed. I was in charge of sixteen wagons with their mules and precious freight, and my chief attention was elicited to secure their safety. Experience had taught me that the Apaches would select exactly such a time to make a bold attempt, and I doubled my sentries. Throwing myself on the earthen floor, in front of a decent fire,
It was not until more than a year had elapsed that I learned the meaning of this occurrence. A celebrated leading man of the Mescalero Apaches, named Gian-nah-tah, or 'Always Ready,' gave the desired information, which precisely
Between three and four o'clock A. M., just after the lights had disappeared, the sound of horses advancing at a fast gallop was heard approaching the station. The sentinel challenged and was immediately answered with the round Saxon response, 'Friends.' It proved to be two of my own company who had been sent back by Capt. Roberts with the information that there was an abundance of water at Dragoon Springs, and instructions to join him with the train without delay. The poor fellows had ridden twenty-eight miles through that terrible storm, and in the heart of a country swarming with hostile and ever vigilant savages. Two days subsequently they had splendid opportunity to test their gallantry and most nobly did they respond to the appeal. In obedience to orders, we set forward before daylight to join Captain Roberts, and reached Dragoon Springs without incident
The wagons were ordered to be parked, every man was supplied with ammunition and posted to the best advantage; proper attention was paid to my wounded sergeant, and the camp arranged in such a manner as to insure a warm reception to a large body of savages. We remained on the qui vive until one o'clock A. M., when to my extreme surprise and sincere gratification, we were joined by John Teal, who was supposed to have been killed. He brought with him his saddle, blanket, sabre and pistols, having lost his horse and spurs. His narrative is so full of interest, and so well illustrates a phase of Apache character, that it is worth recording:
‘‘Soon after we left the pass,’’ said he, ‘‘we opened upon a sort of hollow plain or vale, about a mile wide, across which we dashed with speed. I was about two hundred yards in the rear, and presently a body of about fifteen Indians got between me and my companions. I turned my horse's head southward and coursed along the plain, lengthwise, in the hope of outrunning them, but my horse had been too sorely tested,
It is needless to add how gratified I was to receive this brave and loyal soldier again, and find him free from wound or scar. We subsequently learned that the man he shot was no less an individual than the celebrated Mangus Colorado, but, I regret to add, the rascal survived his wound to cause us more trouble.
About an hour after Teal had come in, I was joined by Capt. Roberts with thirty men, and then got a full description of the fight. I omitted to mention that two twelve-pounder mountain howitzers were with our little force, and to these guns the victory is probably attributable. It seems that about one hundred and thirty or forty miners had located themselves at the Pino Alto gold mines, or the same mines mentioned in a former portion of this work, as the scene where Mr. Hay and his family were attacked and their cattle stolen by the Apaches, and also where Delgadito got badly scored by Wells. This was the great stronghold of Mangus and his band, and finding himself unable to dislodge the unwelcome intruders without help, he had dispatched messengers to Cheis, the principal warrior of the Chiricahua Apaches, to assist him in expelling the miners. Cheis was too much occupied by the advancing column of American troops to give heed to his call, and failed to attend. Such want of faith was inexplicable to Mangus, who knew nothing of our approach, and, at the head of two hundred warriors, he visited Cheis to inquire the reason for his apparent defection from the Apache cause. In reply Cheis took Mangus to the top of the Chiricahua and showed him the dust made by our advance guard, and told him that it was his first duty to defend himself, and that if Mangus would join the affair, they could whip the 'white eyes' and make themselves masters of the spoil. This arrangement was immediately agreed to by Mangus, and their united forces, amounting to nearly seven hundred warriors, so disposed as to take Roberts by surprise
Roberts, entirely unsuspecting any attack, entered the pass with the ordinary precautions. He had penetrated two-thirds of the way, when from both sides of that battlemented gorge a fearful rain of fire and lead was poured upon his troops within a range of from thirty to eighty yards. On either hand the rocks afforded natural and almost unassailable defenses. Every tree concealed an armed warrior, and each warrior boasted his rifle, six-shooter and knife. A better armed host could scarcely be imagined. From behind every species of shelter came the angry and hissing missiles, and not a soul to be seen. Quickly, vigorously, and bravely did his men respond, but to what effect? They were expending ammunition to no purpose; their foes were invisible; there was no way to escalade those impregnable natural fortresses; the howitzers were useless, and the men doubtful how to attack the foe. In such strait, Roberts determined to fall back, reform and renew the contest. The orders were given and obeyed with perfect discipline. Reaching the entrance to the pass, the troops were reorganized, skirmishers were thrown out over the hills so as to command the road; the howitzers were loaded, and belched forth their shells wherever found necessary. In this manner the troops again marched forward. Water was indispensable for the continuance of life. Unless they could reach the springs, they must perish. A march of forty miles under an Arizona sun,
Forward, steadily forward, under a continuous and galling fire did those gallant companies advance until they reached the old station-house in the pass, about six hundred yards from the springs. The house was built of stone, and afforded ample shelter; but still they had no water, and eighteen hours, with a march of forty miles, including six hours of sharp fighting, had been passed without a drop. Men and officers were faint, worn out with fatigue, want of sleep, and intense privation and excitement; still Roberts urged them on and led the way. His person was always the most exposed; his voice ever cheering and encouraging. Immediately commanding the springs are two hills, both high and difficult of ascent. One is to the east, and the other overlooks them from the south. On these heights the Apaches had built rude but efficient breastworks by piling the rocks one upon another so as to form crenelle holes between th interstices. From these fortifications they kept up a rapid
In this fight Roberts had two men killed and three wounded, and I afterwards learned from a prominent Apache who was present in the engagement, that sixty-three warriors were killed outright by the shells, while only three perished from musketry fire. He added: ‘‘We would have done well enough if you had not fired wagons at us.’’ The howitzers, being on wheels, were deemed a species of wagon by the Apaches, wholly inexperienced in that sort of warfare.
Captain Roberts suffered his men to recruit their wasted energies with supper, and then, taking one-half his company, the remainder being left under command of Lieut. Thompson, marched back to Ewell's Station, fifteen miles, to assure the safety of the train under my command, and escort it through the pass. As before stated, he reached my camp a little after two o'clock A. M., where the men rested until five, when the march toward the pass was resumed. Several alarms were given before his arrival, and we heard the Apaches careering around us, but they made no attack, and kept out of sight. At five o'clock, A. M., the train was straightened out with half my effective cavalry force three hundred yards in the advance and the other half about as far in the rear, while the wagons were flanked on either side by the infantry. In this order we entered that most formidable of gorges, when the bugles blew a halt. A considerable body of the infantry was then thrown out on either side as skirmishers, with a small reserve as the rallying point, while the cavalry were ordered to guard the train, and make occasional dashes into the side canyons. 'Up hill and
In this manner we progressed through that great stronghold of the Apaches and dangerous defile, until we joined the detachment under Lieut. Thompson, at the stone station-house, where we quartered for the remainder of that day. Let it be borne in mind that Capt. Roberts' company of California Infantry had marched forty miles without food or water, had fought for six hours with desperation against six times their numbers of splendidly armed Apaches, ensconced behind their own natural ramparts, and with every possible advantage in their favor; had driven that force before them; occupied their defiles; taken their strongholds, and after only one draught of water, and a hasty meal, had made another march of thirty miles, almost absolutely without rest. I doubt much it any record exists to show where infantry had made a march of seventy miles, fought one terrible battle of six hours' duration, and achieved a decided victory under such circumstances.
Roberts reflected for a few moments, and replied—‘‘I am truly sorry that your wish cannot be granted. Yours is the only cavalry I have, and their safety is indispensable to ours. We are going to the San Simon river, where I am ordered to establish a depot and await the arrival of other troops with supplies, and you will have enough to do in your proper turn. I cannot, under the circumstances, grant your request.’’
Capt. Roberts replied: ‘‘You have had my answer, Captain, and it should be enough. I do not intend to jeopardize my own men, but will shell the heights and springs, and effect a bloodless victory, in so far as we are concerned.’’
After this rebuff, I could make no further personal appeal, but instructed Lieut. Muller to beseech Capt. Roberts, and, if possible, induce him to change his mind. Muller argued for half an hour, until Roberts told him either to obey or be placed under arrest. This ended the colloquy. The howitzers then opened fire—the shells burst splendidly, large numbers of Apaches were observed to decamp from the heights in the most hurried manner; the springs also underwent a similar cleaning, and in less than twenty minutes the troops were permitted to advance and fill their canteens, while my cavalry, without waiting further orders, made a rush after the retreating savages until the rapid rise and terribly broken nature of the ground checked their career. The hillsides were covered with fleeing Apaches, who seemed imbued with supernatural powers of locomotion. Upwards they sped with the celerity of Alpine goats, until they disappeared behind the crests of tall mountains and rugged hills. In peace and quiet, we partook of the precious fountain. Our horses and mules, which had not tasted water for forty-eight hours, and were nearly famished from so dusty a road and so long a journey under the hottest of suns, drank as if
The use of artillery in this battle was a surprise to the Indians. Their position was well chosen and impregnable as against small arms, and they certainly would have annihilated the Americans had it not been for the howitzers. After this fight Mangus Colorado returned with the remnants of his force to the Pino Alto country, carrying with him the bullet in his body which had been fired by Sergeant Teal. This chance shot caused the Apaches to abandon their pursuit, diverting their attention from Teal to the succor of Mangus. He was conveyed to Janos, in Chihuahua, where he received the care and attention of a Mexican physician who happened to be at that place at the time. It was a case of surgery under difficult conditions for the doctor was told that if the patient survived, he would be safe, but if the patient died, the doctor and all the inhabitants of the village would be sent to join Mangus in the spirit land. The ball was extracted, Mangus recovered, and the doctor and the village saved.